Does the budget do enough to tackle the nation’s housing woes?

REIA: “Homes for Australians is just about allocating money to build homes for a sector already under strain and that already has a large funding pipeline.”

At the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), president Leanne Pilkington said that Homes for Australians – a package that includes funding for infrastructure, social and affordable housing, and crisis accommodation for women fleeing violence – is welcome, but it is important to be realistic about how far it will go.

“We need to use every tool in the toolbox to get more homes on the ground, and budget 2024 allocates more funding but does not deploy every single tool to resolve our chronic housing shortage,” Pilkington said.

“In particular, it requires all three tiers of government – especially states – to be on board – something that has been lacking in the past. This will be particularly the case for the much-touted new intergovernmental agreement on housing.”

Everybody’s Home: “The federal government has delivered a budget that will keep pushing up housing costs for Australians who are already battling a brutal housing market.”

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Maiy Azize had the harshest words for the government’s housing agenda, noting that funding that was being touted as “new” was in fact essentially a rebrand.

“The government’s ‘new’ funding for social housing is a repackaging of existing initiatives, offering loans instead of providing real funding, and the continuation of a funding agreement with the states and territories something the Commonwealth routinely renews for other essential services like education and health.

“An increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance will provide some short-term relief, but it’s not a lasting fix. It isn’t enough to keep up with rising rents, and it doesn’t go to all of the people who need it.

“If the government was serious about tackling this crisis, it would build more social housing to end the massive shortfall. These are the rentals people can actually afford. A target for the private sector will only deliver more of the same homes that are way too expensive for average people.”

Property Council: “Silver medal budget for housing but better investment settings needed.”

According to Property Council CEO, Mike Zorbas, the organisation felt the budget contained “solid investment in housing – particularly for the most vulnerable – and the better planning of our cities”.

Still, Zorbas said that if the government hoped to meet its ambitious home building target as agreed upon under the National Accord, more action would be required.

“To hit 1.2 million homes by 2029, we need to improve investment settings, incentivise housing approvals, further boost gold medal housing options, including retirement living, purpose-built student accommodation and build-to-rent housing, and bring more tradies in from overseas to complement domestic capacity,” he said.

PCA’s Student Accommodation Council, meanwhile, largely welcomed the commitment made by the government to ensure that universities were providing adequate housing for their cohorts.

“While we wait to see the proposed regulations, the industry is ready to work with the higher education sector to deliver the student accommodation they need. This includes placing students into existing beds today and building new beds into the future,” Torie Brown, executive director of the Student Accommodation Council, said.

“However, the government needs to be careful in how they implement these reforms. There is a lot of capital already invested and looking to invest in Australian PBSA – and we want universities to work with the existing private sector rather than being forced to compete,” she added.

RSM: “While these announcements are encouraging, we would have liked to see more from the government to ease the immediate issues faced by the industry.”

Adam Crowley, national property and construction lead at consulting firm RSM, similarly welcomed the broad measures but noted that there would be little relief for the construction sector in the short term.

“Labour shortages have been a significant issue impacting the property and construction industry, and we are pleased to see an investment by this government to support fee-free training places for new construction workers.

“It does not solve the immediate labour shortages faced by the industry, and this, coupled with the increased cost of materials and the current state and territory planning and approval roadblocks, makes it difficult for the industry at present.”

Master Builders: “The federal budget has finally recognised the importance of a holistic, cross-portfolio approach to solving the housing crisis and made some inroads, but has fallen short of supporting the businesses required to deliver on those projects.”

In Denita Wawn’s view, the measures unveiled in this year’s financial document should be considered as a starting point.

“As it walks on economic tightrope, the federal budget has made positive steps towards boosting housing supply, but it can’t falter mid-way.

“To ensure the industry can build the 1.2 million new homes under the Housing Accord, government ministers must sing from the same hymn sheet and focus all efforts on boosting housing supply.

“Building enough homes for Australians requires action beyond the housing portfolio and needs skills, migration, infrastructure, industrial relations, defence, social services, and industry portfolios to pull in the same direction.

“The housing crisis has been decades in the making with a number of portfolios working at cross-purposes and thwarting the industry’s capacity to build enough homes,” Wawn said.